NOT OVER YET

A.J. Hoffman: Like it or not, you haven't seen the last of Ken Giles

Ken Giles will be back up at some point. Bob Levey/Getty Images

There was a bit of a sigh of relief across Astros universe when Ken Giles got sent down to the minors after Tuesday night’s meltdown and the potty-mouthed tirade that followed it. 

Giles, who was solid for a majority of last season, became so unreliable in the playoffs that the Astros completely went away from using him. This season has been up and down for the hard-throwing reliever. He has been flawless in save situations, but we all know that not every high leverage situation is a “save situation.” When opponents have hit Giles, they have hit him hard. In 34 appearances, Giles gave up earned runs in 9 games. Not horrible, but not exactly vintage-Mariano Rivera either. In 4 of those 9 games he gave up multiple earned runs. Any time a reliever starts to get beat up, fanbases become frustrated. Giles’ case is no different. But here is the rub. 

The Astros are going to need Ken Giles. 

I know, I can hear you groaning and scoffing as you read that last line. Giles still has “stuff.” He throws harder than any other Astro, and as the season goes on Houston will need someone to come in and throw heat. After seeing Cionel Perez on Wednesday night, a left hander with an upper mid-90’s fastball who has dominated at the minor league level, I have a feeling he is with the big club for the long haul. 

So when Giles comes back, and I believe he will come back, who will be the casualty? 

Hector Rondon is likely to be the closer with Giles gone, and perhaps will stick in that role if Giles were to return. Collin McHugh has been phenomenal this year, and provides multi-inning capability. Chris Devenski was vital down the stretch last year, and has looked strong this season. Tony Sipp, a guy who every Astros fan was ready to throw on the scrap heap last year, has been surprisingly effective. Brad Peacock has been up and down, but would likely be “next man up” if a starter were to go down. That really leaves just Will Harris and Joe Smith. Both have been frustrating, although neither has been particularly awful. The reality is, at his best, Giles just has a higher upside than those two players. 

Giles will work on things at Fresno, probably both mental and physical things, and the Astros will eventually recall him and hope for him to be a piece of their playoff run. Granted, they need “good Ken Giles”, and not “hold your breath Ken Giles.” Remember that they are invested in him. It is obviously in the organization’s best interest for Giles to earn his keep in Houston. 

So, enjoy your late innings for the next few weeks, Astros fans. Ken Giles will be back in Houston soon, and while his days as the 9th inning man may be done, the Astros will need him to pitch in tough situations into the fall. 

Like it or not. 

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome